Former state health official gets a break — just 2 years in multimillion-dollar grant kickback scheme

SHARE Former state health official gets a break — just 2 years in multimillion-dollar grant kickback scheme
RoxanneJackson.jpg

Roxanne Jackson, right, a former state health department official, and Dr. Leon Dingle.

SPRINGFIELD — A former Illinois health official has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for her role in a scheme to steal millions of dollars in grant money.

In addition to orderingRoxanne Jackson, 50, of Olympia Fields, to serve 25 months in federal prison, U.S. District Judge Sue Myerscough on Friday also ordered Jackson to repay $1.1 million intended for Illinois Department of Public Health programs.

The sentence was lighter than usual for such a crime, at prosecutors’ request, because Jackson helped with their investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass said he recommended a prison term half of what federal sentencing guidelines call for because Jackson’s cooperation with the government — which included wearing a wire and sharing text messages and recorded conversations with other state officials — resulted in several other pleas and convictions.

Jackson— former chief human resources official for the state agency —appeared solemn during the sentencing hearing in federal court in Springfield as she apologized to the court and her family. She said her actions were a “terrible misjudgment” and pledged to “never ever engage in activities like that.”

Jackson — who will be placed on supervised release for three years following her time in prison —said she planned to “spend the rest of my life encouraging people to pay and follow the law.”

She had pleaded guilty in September to federal bribery, theft and tax evasion charges, admitting she filed false tax returns and participated in the kickback scheme with the agency’s onetime former chief of staff, Quinshaunta Golden of Homewood, and South Side businessman Leon DingleJr.

Bass said that, at Golden’s direction, Jackson was a paid consultant to several nonprofit organizations that received state grants and to a security business owned by her brother that conducted background checks and interviews of Illinois nursing home residents.

As a result, Jackson received more than $1 million in grant and contract money between 2006 and 2009 and paid Golden about $433,000 in kickbacks, according to prosecutors.

Jackson’s sentencing comes after Dingle and his wife Karin Dingle were convicted of more than a dozen charges of stealing $3.4 million in grant money meant to raise awareness of AIDS and cancer in minority and under-served communities.

Golden pleaded guilty to counts including involving theft, bribery, embezzlement and obstruction of justice and is scheduled to be sentenced June 19.

Several others have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Jackson worked for the health department in 2003 and 2004 under Golden and agency director Dr. Eric Whitaker — a close friend of President Barack Obama.

She left the job as the agency’s human resources director and went to work as director of legal services for V.I.P. Security & Detective Services — a company that got about $2 million in health department money starting in 2006 to do criminal-background checks on nursing-home residents. V.I.P. was paid $300 per background check, and Jackson agreed to kick back between $35 and $40 of that to Golden, according to court records.

Golden helped arrange for Dingle to hire Jackson as a consultant and directed $772,500 in state grant money that was supposed to have gone to not-for-profit agencies run by Dingle to go to Jackson instead — and that she in turn would kick back half of the grant money she got to Golden, according to Jackson’s indictment.

Prosecutors said Jackson didn’t report nearly $908,266 in income between 2006 and 2009 and failed to pay $172,825 in taxes.

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